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Prisoners with severe mental health needs are too often isolated, say monitoring boards

BMJ 2024; 384 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.q206 (Published 25 January 2024) Cite this as: BMJ 2024;384:q206
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. The BMJ

A lack of secure mental health beds in the community means that many prisoners in England are spending long periods in isolation, during which their health and wellbeing deteriorate, a damning report from the Independent Monitoring Boards has found.1

Of 31 prisons surveyed over four weeks in autumn 2022, more than a quarter (26%) included prisoners who were held in isolation while waiting to be assessed or transferred to more appropriate secure settings because of their mental health needs.

One prisoner spent over 800 days in care and separation units (previously called segregation units), where prisoners are isolated to “maintain good order and discipline” or for their own safety if they are at risk from other prisoners.

Another man with autism, schizophrenia, and severe symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity …

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